Winter is wrapping up, and if you’re anything like a lot of Colorado natives, you’re itching to get outside. Mud season on the Western Slope may not seem like an ideal time for outdoor activities, but, for some, this is the perfect time to enjoy nature. If you don’t mind getting a little dirty, the possibilities are endless for outdoor fun in Colorado.
A local favorite for many involves off-roading in some form, usually with four-wheelers, side-by-sides, or a Jeep on back roads exploring the terrain. While it may still be a bit chilly and you’ll want to bundle up, the options for finding muddy areas this time of year are endless. For some, it brings out the inner childhood urges of wanting to find every mud puddle to play in. One favorite trek is up Buckhorn Road to Buckhorn Lakes Park, which is just south of Montrose and a great, close afternoon or weekend trip. You will encounter some snowy spots, especially this early in the spring at higher elevations, but some lower elevation areas should be pretty clear…and warmer. It’s always good to travel with a group of people or at least one other off-road vehicle so that if one machine gets stuck, you can quickly pull each other out.
Whether you choose that adventurous route or not, there are plenty of spots close to established roads that are great for on-foot exploration. Toward the top of Red Mountain Pass are several convenient areas for mine exploration that offer incredible scenery in historic locations. There are some great little hikes that would be enjoyable for the whole family, and kids tend to have fun treasure hunting sparkly pyrite rocks, arrowheads, or antique pottery in the mine leavings. Yankee Girl Mine and the Bridal Veil Falls areas outside of Telluride are good spots that are usually easily accessible end of April or mid-May. Some spots like Yankee Boy Basin outside of Ouray may not be open until June, depending on the late snowfalls after Easter. Of course, it is always a good idea to touch base with local authorities on the conditions of roads and trails before venturing out into areas you aren’t familiar with to ensure you don’t get into an unsafe situation.
If you really like to commit to muddy play, there are several 5K mud run/obstacle courses that are eventful activities. Montrose is hosting a Mudder on May 15th with a $40 pre-registration entry fee that involves culvert crawling, rope climbing, tire courses, rope swinging, and mud pits that are sure to satisfy your desire to get dirty. There are cash prizes ranging from $100-$300 for the winners, so you could actually make money playing in the mud. Tough Mudder also has a mud run planned for July 23rd and 24th in Byers Colorado just east of the Denver Area for serious mudders.
Whatever your spring activity, you can always follow up your physical activities with a trip to one of the local hot springs to soak sore muscles. Ridgway and Ouray have several options, and some lodging facilities in Ouray have hot springs pools and hot tubs that are sure to make you sleep like a baby in the cool high-elevation climates. However you choose to enjoy the mud this spring season in Colorado, we wish you happy trails!
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